For some of our patients at Hospice, the opportunity to leave a record of their life story, or parts of their life story is the chance to leave a special legacy for family.
There are many reasons why people may want to consider a life review or biography. For some it is cathartic, for others, it’s satisfying to see “their life in print”, so they can review and appreciate it in their own way and in their own time. And still others wish to leave their story or particular messages for family and friends to remember them by.
At Hospice we have the help of volunteers who are sensitive, engaging and patient, and as biographers, they help guide our patients through the recording of this information. Some biographies are many pages long while others are shorter, but no matter how big or small the project is, the biographer establishes a close rapport with the patient which often lasts well beyond the project’s completion. The amount of time spent on each biography is governed largely by how well our patient is, and how much information they are able to share in the time they spend with their biographer. Sometimes they may be battling tiredness or discomfort, so a sensitivity to their wellbeing on any given day is paramount.
The work is recorded, either by hand or with the use of a dictaphone, and is then transcribed for review and editing as needed. Our biographers will lay out the text, gather photographs, and often find interesting historical pieces or photos that can be added to the finished work. Then comes the proof-reading and finally the document is ready for finishing and binding. The biography is saved onto digital media and taken to a local print house for final completion.
Many hours of focused attention goes into the production of a patient’s biography, and from the first meeting to the final finished product, it can sometimes take several weeks. However, the personal satisfaction for our biographers is very real, as is the joy for the patient for whom the biography is compiled.